Rugby: Crucial clashes in big weekend

Week 17 in the tight Bayfair Baywide premier club rugby competition is filled with tricky matches for a host of teams vying for a place in the semifinals.

The three teams tied on 39 competition points - Mount Maunganui, Opotiki and Te Puna - have matches of contrasting difficulty on a crucial weekend's worth of action.

Mount Maunganui and Opotiki will fancy their chances of claiming outright fourth place, while Te Puna face the toughest trip in the competition - away to Tauranga Sports.

The competition leaders are just three weeks from recording an undefeated regular season, but will face a Te Puna side desperate to back up their 32-27 win over Rotoiti last week.

Another side coming off a big win, Mount Maunganui, have a potentially tough away trip to Paroa to ready themselves for.

The Mount blew Greerton Marist off the paddock last week, hammering them 43-20 to further tighten the race for playoff positions, but will need to avoid being tripped up against a Paroa side that effectively needs a result to keep hopes of another year in the premier division alive.

Rotoiti are another contender with a possibly tough test against a competition struggler.

There has likely not been a worse week to meet the men of Te Ariki Park this season, with Rangataua not likely to be short on confidence considering two wins on the trot have all but secured their place in the premier division for another season.

Rangataua coach Paul Pou said his side's resurgence came as a "pleasant surprise".

"The side gained a bit of confidence from the close lose to Greerton Marist and has put a lot of effort into being better prepared," said Pou.

"We knew from all the close losses that we were capable, it was just a matter of getting our noses in front."

The club has gone from strength to strength over the past fortnight, with Pou believing their season may have been different had they turned some early season defeats into tight wins.

"Our goal now is the next three games - it wasn't at the start of the year but now it's a matter of survival. Win this one and we are safe - we don't want to have to beat Paroa next week to ensure we stay up."

Opotiki look to have a slightly tougher task against Te Puke Sports, but at least, like Rotoiti, they have the benefit of home field advantage.

The defending champions are coming off a tough loss to Tauranga Sports last week, so won't be taking it easy with their place in the impending playoffs yet to be confirmed.

Greerton Marist have three chasing teams only one point back - and indeed four teams within five points - so really need a good win against a slumping Whakarewarewa to keep on track. A loss would likely see them struggle to make the top four, with a home game against Te Puke Sports and an away trip to Opotiki remaining on their schedule.

School rugby

Tauranga Boys' College face Chiefs Cup champions Hamilton Boys' High School at Nicholson Field, Bethlehem College host Whakatane High School in the Baywide first division competition, while Trident High School are at home to Opotiki College.

Unbeaten competition leaders Otumoetai College will play Taupo Nui A Tia in the final match of the round.

Bayfair Baywide club rugby draw, July 6


(All games to start at 2.45pm):

Greerton Marist v Whakarewarewa (Greerton Park 1)

Paroa v Mount Maunganui (Lawson Park 1)

Rotoiti v Rangataua (Emery Park 1)

Opotiki v Te Puke Sports (Princess Street Reserve 1)

Tauranga Sports v Te Puna (Tauranga Domain 1)

Points table: Tauranga Sports 71, Te Puke Sports 49, Greerton Marist 40, Mount Maunganui 39, Opotiki 39, Te Puna 39, Rotoiti 35, Whakarewarewa 27, Rangataua 23, Paroa 13.

Division One:

(All games to start at 2.30pm):

Poroporo v Rangiuru (Poroporo Park 1)

Ruatoki v Katikati (Tuhoe Park 1)

Points table: Rangiuru 59, Poroporo 59, Kahukura 43, Te Teko 42, Waikite 39, Katikati 35, Whakatane Marist 33, Ngongotaha 27, Marist St Michael's 21, Ruatoki 12.

Super 8 draw:

(Games to start at noon, home teams listed first):

Tauranga Boys' College v Hamilton Boys' High School

Rotorua Boys' High School v Napier Boys' High School

BoP Secondary School division one:

(All games to start at noon, home teams listed first)

Bethlehem College v Whakatane High School

Trident High School v Opotiki College

Otumoetai College v Taupo Nui A Tia

- Bay of Plenty Times

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